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In the Spanish-American War many troops died from Yellow Fever and Typhoid, what did they do with the bodies of those people?


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Dear V.S.,

Although American authorities, under the advisement of Governor-General Leonard Wood and Surgeon General George Miller Sternberg, ordered a general emphasis on sanitation measures in the military camps, fatalities to yellow fever and typhoid were generally gathered up in “dead wagons” and placed in zinc-lined coffins newly developed by the Army to carry out a newly initiated policy, largely influenced by Civil War experience, to identify and ship all dead personnel back to the United States for burial either in their home towns or at Arlington National Cemetery. Direct contact with the bodies was limited as much as possible, but otherwise their treatment was standard. As things turned out when the medical findings of Walter Reed’s committee were published on February 16, 1901, such measures had no effect on the virulent yellow fever, which it determined was transmitted by the Aëdes mosquito.

Here is a link to an article from American History magazine about the yellow fever epidemic that swept through Philadelphia in 1793, when that city was the U.S. capital.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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